My initial expectation of the Xitou Nature Area (溪頭自然區) was that it was going to be a walk in the park, so all I had with me was a small daypack with my sweatshirt, wallet, and passport. I donned my Vans and was ready for a stroll with the parents. Entry fee is 200NT ($7) for adults and 10NT ($0.35) for seniors.
Another thing I’ve noticed about being retired is that I’m surrounded by the over-65 crowd.
Parents and I stuck to the easy 1.5K paved path to the Skywalk.
After another 0.5K, we parted ways as I wanted to keep walking up as they would complete the lower loop before heading back to the hotel.
So far, the hike had been pretty straight forward and not particularly challenging. However, that was about to change in a big way once I started to make my way back down.
So instead of taking the easier way down the paved road, I thought I’d avoid the crowd by taking this trail which looks more like a real hiking trail. What I didn’t realize is that this trail isn’t part of the park, and that some hikers hike up this trail to avoid paying the park entrance fees, but then they’d make their way down the main road within the park once they get to the observatory. So, essentially I was hiking in the opposite direction than everyone else. Not only that, because it is not part of the park, the park has been continuously closing off the lower sections to dissuade people from hooking onto this trail. However, hikers have been creating new trails at the same time to bypass closures. This means lots of bifurcations without clear trail markings.
As I got to my first split and still trying to figure out which way to go, a man I had met earlier came down the trail. Luckily he (阿龍) was there at that very moment, because he was able to guide me all the way back down. In fact, he’s the main guy who’s been creating new trails, and he was concerned that I was on the trail without a guide.
阿龍 introduced me to the newest trail that he’s been working on. In fact, the trail is so new that I’m only the 10th person who’s ever gotten a chance to hike it. The best part of this trail is that it leads right out to Le Midi!
Thinking back, I was very lucky with this trail. However, I will certainly not recommend this trail without a guide as it is very easy to get lost. Had I not run into 阿龍 when I did, I would have had to retrace my steps back to the main road in the park.